The Vintage Inn is on a mission to be the best little pub in Ireland, and on the evidence so far they are definitely heading in the right direction.
The Vintage is a little bar and restaurant in Irishtown, close to the bottom of Bath Avenue, and beside Sober Lane. It is a traditional pub, and owner Kathy Gleeson - who is the daughter of the previous owners - has treated the past with some respect, while adding some new touches and a bit of design flourish.
Perhaps the biggest flourish is the food menu, which offers a short menu of lunchtime treats, a savage Sunday lunch and an evening menu that's short and to the point, but offers enough choice to make it a regular spot.
From the outside the Vintage is a traditional Irish pub, and inside the bar is still the same, but now the tables are laid out for food service. There is a nice china display case that was robbed from home, and Kathy's Mammy's wallpaper was recycled from the parlour onto the side panels and pillars in the room, adding a touch of embossed glamour.
Apart from the great food and drink, there are events and shows on a regular basis, and a real sense of community, or perhaps communiality, has been built up. Trad sessions, Mr. Pussy and Rat Pack Las Vegas, it's all going on.
I happened on the Vintage for lunch and fabulous pulled pork sliders had me at hello, and the authentic charm is infectious.
I returned for Sunday lunch with Abigail, daughter and food scientist, and we got stuck into a real shepherds pie topped with Parmesan mash. This was Abigail's choice and she worked her way through the whole lot, complimenting the food, but otherwise silent as she addressed herself to the plate at hand.
I opted for the roast beef Sunday lunch, which was a proper one, with slices of rib of beef, a gravy filled Yorkshire pudding, cabbage, turnips, roasties and mash, with lashings of real gravy, and all for the ridiculous price of €12.
If you are the smaller, have a half portion for €9, or feed the kids for a week for €6.
We've been back on more than one occasion since, and highlights include the flatbread with pulled pork, the fall off the bone tangy ribs and the burger, a colossus of a construct with two beef burgers separated by a cheesey slice of bacon and all topped with onions and more cheese, held between a soft Blaa like bun, it is tremendously good.
Desserts like the rest of the food are all homemade, and the crumbles are always good, while the chocolate brownie's are among the best the chocolate brownie expert has had, but the piece de resistance for me is the white chocolate and raspberry torte.
I generally don't like white chocolate - in fact it should probably be only available on prescription - but this confection was a million miles from sickly sweet. It was a beautiful balance between the raspberries on top, and the chocolate filling - which had the texture of a baked cheesecake, with the chocolate flavour, but minus the sweetness. The pastry base was perfectly cooked and the whole was a triumph.
I loved the Vintage Inn. It's a family run affair, with staff who are there as long as thirty five years, and it has charm and warmth in abundance. Get along for a proper Sunday lunch, or share the evening menu with friends, you won't be disappointed.